Homes destroyed in NSW bushfire

Homes destroyed in NSW bushfire

Homes destroyed in NSW bushfire

Updated 14 January 2013, 20:46 AEST

The Rural Fire Service says it is lucky no lives have been lost in a fire that has destroyed 33 homes near Coonabarabran, one of many still burning across New South Wales.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) says at least 33 homes have been lost in a bushfire west of Coonabarabran, which also damaged the Siding Spring Observatory.

The fire in the Warrumbungle National Park in the north-west of the state has burnt out nearly 40,000 hectares and has a 100-kilometre-wide front.

About 100 people living in the area have been forced to evacuate their homes as officials warn the amount of properties lost could rise.

A watch-and-act alert has been issued for the fire which is burning in a northerly direction about one kilometre south of Bugaldie.

Inspector Brett Lachlan from the RFS says properties to the west of the Warrumbungle National Park may come under threat if firefighters cannot contain the fire.

"We have a large number of fire trucks obviously at Bulgaldie, prepared for whatever might eventuate," he said.

"Finalise property preparations and things like that, it is still a very dynamic fire, the situation's going to continue to evolve."

Most residents have been evacuated to Baradine and Coonabarabran.

The RFS has confirmed 33 properties and more than 50 sheds have been destroyed, as well as machinery and there have been extensive stock losses.

The NSW Government has launched a website with information for affected communities. Click here

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers says the fire burned on Sunday with a ferocity not seen for many years in New South Wales.

We know people are hurting, we know people have lost homes and we know homes are more than bricks and mortar.

We know it's very important... but not as important as their life.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers

"The smoke plume of that fire extended some 14km into the air and even prevented us from getting aircraft overhead because of just how dangerous and bumpy the conditions were," he said.

"Embers were being blown ahead of the fire and starting a new fire some 5km ahead and it became very apparent early in the piece that there was just absolutely no stopping that fire and it was simply too unsafe to leave people."

Mr Rogers says those who were removed from the area should not try to return until authorities deem it safe.

"At this point in time, we ask for their patience," he said.

"We know people are hurting, we know people have lost homes and we know homes are more than bricks and mortar, we know that it's their possessions and memories, we know it's very important... but not as important as their life."

Mr Rogers says crews are throwing every resource at the fire but he cannot guarantee it will be contained before warm weather returns later in the week.

Meanwhile, a watch and act alert has been issued for another fire, north-east of Coonabarabran, which has closed the Newell Highway.

The RFS says the two-hectare blaze is burning out of control but is not threatening properties at this stage.

And a fire near Eugowra, east of Forbes, which jumped containment lines this afternoon, has been brought back under control.

There were concerns it would reach the nearby Nangar National Park but crews are working to strengthen containment lines.

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